Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Calling All Umifriends!

I'm not sure how she got hooked, but the Umizoomi friends have become Clara's favorite over the last year. We decided she need an umi-style third birthday party.

It was a ton of fun to see how excited Clara got leading up to her party. She loved mailing the invitations and talking about all her friends and family coming to help her celebrate. She was a big "help" decorating, and had lots of opinions about where everything should go. She insisted that we needed balloons, a happy birthday sign and birthday candles. 

When she got up from her quiet time on Saturday, she was thrilled to see that grandma had delivered the UmiCar cake and Milli and Geo cupcakes. Her actual quote was, "this is the best birthday ever!"

We had Milli pigtails to wear, Geo shape belts to make and we sent the kids on a scavenger hunt looking for characters and shapes. The best part of the night for the kids was watching a birthday Umizoomi episode in their own cardboard Umicars. Brad rigged up the big screen and the parents enjoyed 15 minutes of relative peace and quiet :). Major credit goes to Brennie for her car factory!

We kept the food simple with pizza, but added some shape cheese and jello to fit the theme. Clara had lots of cakes to choose from and was thrilled when everyone sang her happy birthday. 

It rained on and off throughout the evening, so we had to be inside most of the party. But at the end, the kids got to run loose for a bit. Clara had a blast playing outside with her cousin and buddies. 

Our best attempt at a family photo
Clara ended her weekend with a sleepover at grandma and grandpas in her new Milli jammies. Yes, she has a good life :) We do too, as mom and dad were ready for a long full nights sleep without Clara in the house!

We often talk about how lucky our kids are to grow up near so many people who love them. Thanks to everyone who helped us prepare for the party, celebrate and made Clara feel so special on her birthday!


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Luke the Toddler (15 Months)

We’re having a hard time accepting that this guy isn’t “baby Luke” anymore. But, we have to admit he’s turning into more of a toddler every day.

He’s walking everywhere now, and tends to run the fastest when we tell him no! or stop! 
He’s also talking more every day. Some of his first words were yeah, more, dad, mama, baby, bye, Clara and grandpa. He will repeat a lot of words if you ask him too. He seems to understand about everything we say to him and it’s fun to ask him to do things and have him actually follow along! 

With the ability to communicate comes lots of opinions. We all have strong arms from holding him while he tries to dive out of our arms to grab whatever has caught his eye. He definitely lets us know when things don’t go how he’d like. His biggest battle is trying to get his hands on electronic devices. After he was sick recently, he started recognizing the Netflix logo and asking for (demanding) “Daniel Tiger”. TV is addicting even at his age! 

Even with his strong opinions, Luke is still a happy, happy kid. He LOVES to be outside and will sit and play in the sandbox in our backyard forever. He also likes our water table, the swingset, playing with rocks and does pretty well on stroller rides. He’s a determined little guy and we find him up on top of chairs or inside things a lot. There are a lot of situations where Clara would have asked for help at that age, and he quietly figures it out.

He has started to really like to read books. I love when he grabs a book off the shelf and toddles over to settle into my lap to read. He’s also getting better at playing by himself for a few minutes at a time. It’s fun to watch him play and see what he chooses when left on his own. 

He’s still a pretty good eater, but has learned to get a reaction from us by tossing his food across the room. We try and ignore the behavior in an effort to not encourage, but Clara doesn’t want to let anything “naughty” that Luke does slide. 

Luke copies everything Clara does (good and bad). If she’s upset, he typically throws in a sympathy cry or two. If she’s playing with a toy, he wants in on the action too. He think she’s the best thing he’s ever seen. Clara either loves him or can’t handle him within 3 feet of her. We’re working on patience :) 

Last summer, we spent our time taking turns holding Luke for all his naps because he wouldn’t sleep during the day on his own. This summer, we’re chasing him around, and feeling like we can go about anywhere with our two. We’re loving the freedom that the year has brought, and we can’t wait for a summer of fun with the kids.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring Break 2014

We jumped at the chance to join the Daniels family for a beach vacation in March. While vacationing with small children is not relaxing, it was a lot of fun. Both kids did fairly well flying and staying flexible with their "schedules."

We all stayed in a house in Captiva, Florida. It's a great vacation spot for families, as everything is walkable and the beach is always close. Our little family had two bedrooms to share and it was nice to spread out a bit.

Clara LOVED the beach. She would have stayed all day digging in the sand. Her favorite activity was probably ordering her grandparents and Aunt Amy to get more water from the ocean. With lots of adults around, she always had someone to play with. 

Luke did a great job going with the flow and playing on the beach. It was even move fun once he learned to not eat the sand. 

Luke took many naps in the carrier over the week. #easykid

One of our favorite spots was a restaurant on the beach where we ate lunch a few times. Luke would just sit in his high chair and bop along to the music. 

Our house had a pool, which was perfect with little kids. We could get in for a quick swim before or after nap time. They both loved the water, which was plenty warm thanks to uncle Dan finding the thermostat :)

We loved getting to spend extra time with the kids and our extended family. It's not very often we are all together, and it was really fun to get to spend a whole week in one spot. We enjoyed lots of walks and time spent outdoors, a perfect break from such an awful winter. 

Of course, the kids were really happy when we found a neat city park on a nearby island. As we pulled up in the stroller the sound of pure excitement and delight when Clara spotted a PARK! was priceless. It was a long winter for her too. 

We definitely could not of pulled off the travel without lots of help. We are so thankful that we got to take our kids on such a cool trip. It is pretty fun to see things like the beach through the eyes of your toddler. She keeps asking when we can go back! Grandma and I are trying to get everyone to book for next year... :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Celebrating Luke

We had a farm party to celebrate our sweet boy turning one. The theme was chosen partly because Luke loves our Little People barn and the toy animals. It was also chosen because I found some sweet farm animal plates on clearance at Hobby Lobby six months ago :)

The Strouse family played the part by dressing in matching farmer overalls. Brad wore a pair of authentic overalls from my grandpa who used to wear this style every day. Pinterest is addicting for party planning these days, so we had some fun decorating and serving treats that fit the theme. My mom came through with some epic cake pops and we had haybales and farm cupcakes for dessert.

We gave the kiddos little farmer hats and bandanas so they could play in our favorite part of the decorations - the cardboard barn! Planning, building and painting the barn was a fun project to work on together (even if it took longer than anticipated). Clara loves it and Luke likes to crawl in and out and peek out the windows.

Now, I’m not sure Brad is ever going to let it out of the house (after two rounds of dumpster diving for giant boxes). We may have a barn in our basement for life. We have lots of extra cardboard rivets if anyone wants to build something else epic... 

Dedication to the barn on a zero degree day :)
We had some farm crafts for the kiddos to work on since we had to stay inside for the February party. It was fun to get all the little people together and let them play. 

Luke wasn’t a huge fan of his cake at first, but was much more enthusiastic once we gave him a fork to dig in. He ended up using a cake pop as his tool of choice to really get after it.

Luke was pretty quiet at his party, and we learned why when he woke up with a fever the next day. Poor guy! We hope he knows how much he is loved. Thanks to everyone who helped us get ready for the party and came to help us celebrate Luke!